I enjoy discussing and writing about the future of publishing, particularly how the environment is changing for authors. While I’ve been invited to major events to offer insights on the topic, including Frankfurt Book Fair and LitFlow Berlin, I don’t take it all very seriously. Or, that is to say: I am sincere in offering ideas and arguments, but it is a manner of play and exploration. I always remember that I have never made my living by doing anything else except traditional publishing (and teaching others how to write and publish).
If you want to read a series of sincere essays I wrote on the future of publishing, check out my contributions to Sprint Beyond the Book, a collaborative experiment hosted and sponsored by ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination and Intel:
- The Blurring Line Between Reader and Writer
- The Importance of Metadata in Book Discoverability
- The Atomization of Publishing
- The Future of Editing: Beta Readers and Agile Publishing
- Book as Fluke: A Thought Experiment
- The Idea of the Author Is Facing Extinction
- Here’s a written version of my presentation at Litflow Berlin: The Future of the Author-Publisher Relationship
- You might enjoy this panel I participated on: What Every Literary Writers Needs to Know About Digital Disruption (The Muse & The Marketplace, 2014).
I have also written a satire on the future of publishing, which reflects my very not-serious side on this issue. It is called The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations, and you can download it for free.
Referenced by GalleyCat and Teleread, The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations consists of 14 variations or brief insights on what the future of publishing holds. It analyzes the future of not only authors, but also agents, editors, publishers, bookstores, and reading/literacy—with a sense of humor.
- Click here to view or download the PDF for free.
- Are you on GoodReads? Add the e-book to your reading shelf!
Read formal reviews of The Future of Publishing
- From eCapris: “In GAA(d) We Trust”
- From Jean Doorn: “I Love Wikipedia”
Note on e-book format/compatibility
Due to illustrations and unusual formatting, this book is only available as a PDF document. However, the PDF can be downloaded, viewed, and read on virtually any device—including your desktop computer, your tablet, your mobile, and your e-reading device (such as Kindle). You can also print out a hard copy from the PDF.
Praise for The Future of Publishing
“This short e-book is funny. All-the-way-through-funny.” —eCapris review
“Jane Friedman’s new book is part publishing world science fiction, part 21st century book fugue and part author-agent-publisher slapstick! Released on April Fool’s Day, it delivers the wisdom that only laughter can conjure. … It should be on every writer’s, reader’s, editor’s, agent’s and publisher’s bedside table. Or Kindle. Or iPad, etc. The Future of Publishing is a baker’s dozen of hypothetical ‘tomorrows’ for the publishing industry plus a less-hyperbolic-more-realistic snapshot of what we should all expect to see over the next few decades.”
“Think Rashomon and Future Shock, and then look at this little treatise as The 39 Pages. Each ‘Enigma Variation’ is a tiny, crafty irritant, a satirical nudge of ‘No, it couldn’t really be THAT way’-ness. Jane’s just riffing.’ Yeah—including her idyllic Variation #6 in which publishers go angelic: ‘When a book doesn’t sell, the publisher takes all the blame, and issues a public apology to the author—knowing that the author could, at any time, jump ship to Amazon, Google, or Apple for higher royalties.’
You alternately want the dream to go on, and the nightmare to end, as this publishing pundit reads the entrails of authors (who starved without cheese sandwiches, Ms. Atwood) to foretell the ‘definitive’ uncertainty of the pathways a direly troubled, and vulgarly self-fascinated, industry may take. The bell Jane rings here? It tolls for we.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you will see GAA(d), and that’s Google, Amazon, Apple and (their developers), an unholy trinity of entities who will, like good weaponry manufacturers in all civil wars, be the only profitable parties to the fray. You know we’re in trouble when one Variation, No. 9, makes you feel warm and fuzzy—because it sparks fond memories of Fahrenheit 451.”
“What makes this book so funny? Simply put: Hyperbole. Ms. Friedman took all of my bleakest imaginings and wildest expectations of publishing industry trends, stripped them down, turned them on their edge, and somehow made me appreciate being shown how completely batty I’ve been over this topic.”